Part 1 – Who am I? But not totally.
Chapter 4: The Road to Now – As if walking backwards
I am an elected official. I guess that’s as good a place as any to start, or introduce you to an end to where I am at this moment.
I am a Trustee for the local public school board – the same one I was educated within, hired by my neighbors through a Municipal Election that takes place every four years. We share the ballot with Mayor hopefuls, councillor candidates, and those vying for positions as Trustees for the Catholic and French school boards.
Nobody knows who the haiti we are or what the bloody heck we do. Not even most teachers. That the curriculum does not discuss our place in politics is often brought up by my colleagues. It, as well as our part-time role, highlights our importance in the eyes of others elected in the past to represent their communities.
It’s odd to find myself here even three years into my first and likely last term as a public official.
I ran into an old vice-principal I had in high school a few months back at an open house at a Muslim mosque of all places. It was a lovely, informative, and enlightening evening. I imagined him returning home however, having an apostrophe of a young teen who spent countless hours in his office and graduated by the seat of his pants. A young know-it-all who made weird, distracting noises, barely passed his favorite subject – art. Who had a knack of playing reunion agent between his father and the Principal who once were teacher and student. The same kid who attended summer school, night school, and who elected to take basic courses in grade 12 for fear he would not make the graduation stage with his peers should he seek more challenging subjects. My plan worked of course but I am not sure what it really achieved looking back?
I imagined that former educator fearful of the fate of our education system with the likes of me at the lead, but I know that is not what he was actually thinking. It seemed from our great and lengthy discussion that he and other past teachers I have spoken with, have long been fearful without my assistance in further mucking it up.
Being an elected official is a bit tricky, confusing, and in a part-time role, often lonely. We don’t have assistants. We answer phone calls, respond to emails and social media messages and attend neighborhood meetings like full-time officials do. We even get lambasted through these same mediums and find ourselves from time to time the reluctant subject of newspaper articles. We also have families, regular jobs, and other everyday tasks to manage as well. We sit on committees, attend regular board meetings, and are invited to countless events by community partners. It’s a difficult balance.
I perhaps have found all this a great deal more challenging as a single father who only sees his children half of the time and choses to be selective of what takes me away from my children. It is for this reason that there isn’t a day that passes where I don’t think of calling it quits early so I can go back to just being a father. I love being involved in my community. I really do, but I cherish being dad to my two cuties most.
It is my desire to mostly focus on being a dad that is the real driver to this story and seeking broader support and buy-in before going any further. I try to take small steps each day towards this imagined goal but I cannot move forward with anything that will take me away from my greatest passion – those girls. For this venture to succeed, I must have the human and monetary investment that will assure all of those involved can live their lives in a ‘family first’ fashion.
I did not take on the role of Trustee from a purely ‘betterment of my community’ standpoint I must admit. Unfortunately there was a monetary value to that decision to enter politics as well. I was divorced, struggling financially, and was looking for something to supplement my income. I was in search of a thing I could be passionate about and that might lead to an eventual career change having been in the same job for 16 years on election day, October 27th, 2014. Let’s just say that I have come to the realization in my third summer as Trustee, that there is no monetary benefit for anyone in a similar situation as I am. That’s okay though because there truly is far more to be gained from this role beyond our honorariums.
So money is a wash then. Time is being taken away from parenting. Stress levels are high. I have little time for the important things like dishes or laundry or on occasion a shower. Like today. Phew. Yesterday? Bloody hell.
Much of my vacation days are also used for events and meetings related to this ‘part-time’ job. My purpose is now constantly being self examined and my place in politics is growingly becoming moot given what I advocated for and what I have actually accomplished.
I do love my role and am extremely honored to serve in this manner. I am very lucky to have been elected to this position. There isn’t a day goes by that I am not thankful and humbled by having been entrusted to represent my communities voice for something as critically important as their child’s education.
I do have so much more to say about my position as Trustee, but I do not wish to expose the storyline beyond the title just yet. So true to me, I will engage in a bit of a ‘squirrel’ moment for a chapter or two or three, and skip around a bit to what has lead me down the path to now sitting at my diner-esque kitchen table imagining this tale.